From Rookie to Champion, Heidi Goza-Keasler
12 years old and taking on the world of kart racing, Heidi Goza-Keasler has made a name for herself in just one year. From Paragould, Arkansas, and a member of her family team SRRT (Spoiled Rotten Racing Team), Heidi enjoys the family aspect of racing but doesn’t mind the speed or the beating on the boys.
And beat on them she does, with ease and a bit of cockiness, Heidi passes the male racers and leaves them with the view of a sticker, saying, “YOU JUST GOT PASSED BY A GIRL”. With her 2010 Rage Jr Champ Kart and a Predator 212cc motor built by Dover Power specifically for her class, Heidi was able to secure the 2017 MARS JR1 Points Series Championship in her first year of kart racing. Out of the 12 races of her season, she found herself on the podium for all of them. With 5 feature wins, 4 second place finishes, and 3 third place finishes, you could say that racing comes naturally to her.
Though it hasn’t all been easy turns and trophies for this girl. Her first race taught a lesson that won’t soon be forgotten. On February 28, 2017, Heidi was in second place and sticking close to the lead man. But coming out of a turn with the intent to pass on the outside, she drove up too close to the tires that signalled the edge of the track. Catching the lip of the dirt with her front tire, Heidi was immediately pulled to the right, the momentum sent her rolling back down the track. “When I started rolling it scared me, but I’d been told to keep my hands on the steering wheel, so that’s what I did. It wasn’t that scary,” Heidi remarked. Other than some cosmetic damage to the kart, everything was fine. So fine, in fact, that Heidi went on to finish the race with her first win.
Her most exciting win would come at the end of the season. After a few weekends of struggling to get the first place win, on November 11, 2017 at the Bobby Humes Memorial Race at her home track of Jonesboro Karting Complex, Heidi took on several other drivers. “It was a big race,” recalled Heidi’s Dad, Shaine Keasler, “A lot of drivers were there. It’s a momentum track. We told her if she could keep it flat-footed and keep it up on top, she could win the race. If all kids listened to their parents like Heidi, we’d have some tougher competition.”
While it is obvious that Heidi enjoys the racing and the competitiveness of the sport, her favorite aspect is the family time. Raised around dirt track racing, Heidi can often be found at Crowleys Ridge Raceway, helping her mom check drivers into the pits. Her dad helps with the track safety. Even her younger brother, Aiden, gets in on the action, racing a cage kart himself. As is often the case, the competitiveness between siblings is a factor for these two, as they try to see who can get the most trophies. Heidi and Aiden even raced in the same class this past year, though Aiden was at a disadvantage with a smaller motor he still finished in 3rd place while Heidi took the win.
Not only has racing developed a rivalry between siblings over trophy count, but kart racing has created a bond between father and daughter. Shaine Keasler, Heidi’s dad, was once Heidi’s step-dad. The mutual passion for racing drove the two closer and closer until on Valentine’s Day, Heidi popped the question: Will you adopt me?
And of course, Shaine said “Yes.”
“Heidi listens very well as to what to do, what to look for when passing, how fast to go. She’s very talented,” remarked Shaine. And not just at racing, Heidi is also a competitive basketball player. A post for several different teams, Heidi divides her time between school work, basketball, and racing – excelling at all. “I’m so proud of Heidi,” Hannah Keasler, Heidi’s Mom, mentioned.
The next year will see Heidi move up into the fastest JR Champ class ran in the series, MARS JR2. She will have a new motor built specifically for the class. “I will have much more power in my kart for 2018 so I will be learning how to handle that along with competing against much more experienced drivers,” Heidi commented.
Heidi looks forward to reaching the age when she can race Late Models at the racetrack where her family spends most of their weekends, Crowleys Ridge Raceway. Until then her family looks for sponsors for their 2018 season and thanks their 2017 sponsors: Survival Flight Inc and Crowleys Ridge Raceway.
“Don’t be disappointed or discouraged that you haven’t won your first race, because you can win if you practice at it and really want to do it.” — Heidi Goza-Keasler